Posts Tagged ‘Global Dynamics’

Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton To Guest-Star On Syfy’s Eureka

April 5, 2010

ACTOR, author and blogger Wil Wheaton of the popular television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the classic feature film Stand By Me, has signed up for a guest-starring appearance on the fourth season of Eureka, one of the Syfy Channel’s most popular original series. The new season is slated to return to Syfy on Friday, July 9th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST.

In episode 403 of Eureka titled All The Rage, Sci-Fi fan favorite Wheaton plays the brilliant Dr. Isaac Parrish, head of the Non-Lethal Weapons lab at Global Dynamics. Parrish’s dry wit and superior attitude make him a thorn in Douglas Fargo’s (Neil Grayston) side, with potentially disastrous consequences. This episode is scheduled to air on Friday, July 23rd.

Eureka’s Erica Cerra – The Enforcer

August 12, 2009
Erica Cerra as Eureka's Jo Lupo - Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Erica Cerra as Eureka's Deputy Jo Lupo - Photo by F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Intelligent, beautiful, resourceful and sexy – all these adjectives describe Deputy Jo Lupo. Let’s not forget that, given just cause, she can also incapacitate you and throw you in jail. With her as one half of Eureka’s long arm of the law, the small town has nothing to worry about.

Three years ago, it looked as if Jo would be promoted when her boss, Sheriff William Cobb, was reassigned after almost losing his life to a misguided scientific experiment. Unfortunately for her, the government chose U.S. Marshall Jack Carter as Cobb’s replacement. At first, Jo was disappointed and somewhat prickly towards Jack, but they soon became friends as well as a formidable team. Nowadays, she is still helping him police the town, and Erica Cerra, who plays Jo in Eureka, is thrilled with her character’s growth and development so far over the show’s three seasons.

“Each season, Jo seems to soften up somewhat, which I always think is nice because it allows the audience to get to like her a bit more,” says the actress with a laugh. “Her relationship with [scientist] Zane Donovan [Niall Matter] has also helped give her an opportunity to express her feelings and become emotionally attached to someone else. I’m very happy that the [show’s] writers have allowed Jo and Zane to more or less take their time and haven’t married them off yet and given them children. The two of them bicker a lot, and Niall and I enjoy playing that.

“As individuals, Niall and I get along very well, so that makes our scenes quite easy, and I think that’s why the writers are able to give us so much bizarre relationship stuff to do. Zane has almost been taken away from Jo a couple of times, and those moments have given my character a chance to say to him, ‘No, please don’t go. I really do have a heart.’ The [acting] challenges with this and any character are in the scripts, and I always look forward to taking on the next challenge.”

Deputy Lupo on duty in Eureka. Photo by James Dittiger and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Deputy Lupo on duty in Eureka. Photo by James Dittiger and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Midway through Eureka‘s third season in From Fear to Eternity, Sheriff Carter (Colin Ferguson) must deal with yet another technological crisis when a long-forgotten doomsday weapon discovered in an abandoned military complex threatens to destroy the town. In the process, he ends up trapped inside the facility with Eva Thorne (Francis Fisher), a scientist with a mysterious past and a secret to hide. Above ground, Deputy Lupo and Zane try to help figure out a way to rescue Carter and Eva, but have their own problems when a weird substance literally binds them together.

“The original script for that episode was very different from what ended up on the screen, and it continued to change quite a bit while we were shooting,” recalls Cerra. “Jo and Zane were, I believe, on the brink of breaking up in that story, or they were at least fighting; every other episode they’re on the brink of a break-up, but again that’s fun. It not only gives the characters something to do, but it’s also very real. These are two people who passionately care about each other and are trying to find their groove.

“One thing that immediately comes to mind from that episode is that in the scene in which Jo and Zane finally become unstuck, I walk away and say, ‘If I had been stuck to you any longer I’d have gnawed off my own arm.’ And he yells back at me, ‘Well, your mouth is big enough.’ That was all Niall, and it was really funny,” chuckles the actress. “He just ad-libbed that and they ended up keeping it in, which was great. It’s something that, again, is real. It’s what a boyfriend might say to his girlfriend when he wants to get a jab in at her, so that line always sticks out for me.”

In the third season Eureka story Your Face or Mine – directed by Colin Ferguson – Jo Lupo becomes acting sheriff while Carter takes a Department of Defense (D.O.D.) recertification test. However, her friends being to wonder if the job might be too much for her when she starts behaving strangely. They have no idea that a scientist at Global Dynamics is using her experiment to take over Jo’s physical identity. As is typical in Eureka, things go horribly wrong, and Jo comes face-to-face with herself as she fights for her life.

Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Jo in a scene from "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

Carter (Colin Ferguson) and Jo in a scene from "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of The Syfy Channel

“I was so excited when I got that script,” enthuses Cerra. “First off, being given that much stuff to do in a single episode, it just felt so nice to know that the producers had faith that I could handle it. As an actress I had tons of challenges, and having Colin directing was such a cool experience. It was the first time that a member of the cast had directed us, and it was important to me that I do everything to the best of my ability and not let him down.

“Colin and I work so much together that he says, ‘I speak Erica,’ which I always find amusing. The thing is, I’m not always the best as far as articulating certain things, but somehow Colin always knows what the hell I’m trying to say,” she says laughing. “I’d be in a very happy place if I could take him with me as a director all the time.

“So this episode was by far my biggest challenge of the season, and as the remaining 13 episodes went on, the writers gave me other scenes where Jo became emotionally attached to something. As an actor, if you’re not emotionally attached to something, there’s nothing to really play, right? A great deal of what I do on the program is standard, so whenever I’m given something a little different to play, I take full advantage of it.”

When Cerra took time out to do this interview (early January 2009), she and the rest of the Eureka cast were shooting one of the final season three episodes, which was directed by castmember Joe Morton (Henry Deacon). “In this episode, Zane comes back to Eureka after being gone for a month, and there is a possible threat to the relationship between him and Jo,” notes the actress. “There’s also a visit from an old love interest.

L-R - Erica Cerra with some of her Eureka castmates at Comic Con 2009 - Joe Morton, Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake), Cerra and Neil Grayston (Douglas Fargo). Photo copyright of The Syfy Channel

L-R - Erica Cerra with some of her Eureka castmates at Comic Con 2009 - Joe Morton, Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake), Cerra and Neil Grayston (Douglas Fargo). Photo copyright of The Syfy Channel

“As far as being directed by Joe, it’s been fantastic. We get a different director with every episode, and with Joe it feels more like we’re all hanging out and playing together, do you know what I mean? It’s not that we ever make any of our directors feel uncomfortable, but when someone new comes in, you’re trying to get to know them and there’s never enough time for that. With Joe, and, of course, Colin, you already know them and they know how to talk with you and know what you need. It’s just cozier and easier to sort of give them what they want because you both know how to translate each other’s words.”

After production wrapped on Eureka‘s third season, the actress shot guest-spots on episodes of Warehouse 13 and Sanctuary, and can also be seen as Hera in the feature film Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief starring Pierce Brosnan and Rosario Dawson. As for Eureka, the program continues to grow in popularity and has been renewed for a fourth season. While the episodes may be driven by scientific mishaps, there is a lightness and humor involved in storytelling as well, both of which Cerra feels draws viewers to tune in.

“I remember looking at one of the Eureka websites and someone was complaining that the science was wrong. Somebody else wrote in and said, ‘Just watch it and be entertained.’ and I agree,” says the actress. “There are a lot of TV shows about murder and sadness, and what’s great about Eureka is that you can sit back, watch it and just be entertained, and in today’s world I think that’s a good thing.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, photos are by James Dittiger, Marcel Williams and F. Scott Schafer and copyright of The Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!

Eureka’s Jaime Paglia – Small Town Kinda Guy

July 22, 2009
Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter), Joe Morton (Henry Deacon) and Salli Whitfield-Richardson (Dr. Allison Blake) in the season three Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Colin Ferguson (Sheriff Jack Carter), Joe Morton (Henry Deacon) and Salli Richardson-Whitfield (Dr. Allison Blake) in the season three Eureka episode "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

BELIEVE it or not, it was three years ago that Eureka co-creator and executive producer Jaime Paglia first invited audiences into the small Pacific Northwest town where, thanks to the local government-run think tank Global Dynamics, just about anything scientifically and technologically-speaking can happen. The brains behind Eureka may be working towards the betterment of humanity, but their results often end up endangering the town and its locals.

Midway through the show’s third season, Sheriff Jack Carter prevented a doomsday weapon from destroying Eureka. However, when he let Eva Thorne, one of the scientists involved in a pre-Eureka research project on atomic bombs, go free, he was fired. That was last summer. Earlier this month, Eureka returned to the Syfy Channel with 10 brand new episodes to finish out its third season, which was part of the plan all along according to Paglia.

“The reason that this order [for season three] got split the way it did was because once the writers’ strike [of 2007] resolved itself, it was a matter of, ‘OK, hurry up and catch up,'” explains the executive producer. “In order to stay on track for having episodes to air last summer in Eureka‘s regular time-slot, we were only able to physically shoot and complete eight episodes.

“So as opposed to doing the full 18-episode run all at once, we wrote and shot eight, then took a brief hiatus while the writers furiously caught up on scripts so that we’d have more material to shoot, and gave the cast and crew a little breather. Then we went back and shot the last 10 episodes. We’d hoped that they were going to air earlier this year, around February, but economics being what they are, the network elected to hold them until this summer.

“We planned to do a mini-arc with the Eva Thorne [Frances Fisher] character and that was something we wanted to resolve. We had discovered the challenges of sometimes doing a longer mythology arc that you then might not be able to explore in every episode the way we would want to. And I think we decided it was easier to focus on the active element of the first eight episodes of this [third] season and resolve things a bit quicker. That, in turn, allowed us to create a whole new mini-arc for the remaining 10 episodes, and it felt like a really nice, manageable way to approach the story breaking process.”

An unemployed Sheriff Carter happily lends a hand to help his friends out in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

An unemployed Sheriff Carter happily lends a hand to help his friends out in "Welcome Back Carter." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

In the mid-season cliffhanger From Fear to Eternity, the lives of many of our favorite Eureka characters were turned upside-down. Besides Jack Carter’s (Colin Ferguson) dismissal by General Mansfield (Barclay Hope), the sheriff’s teenage daughter Zoe (Jordan Hinson) almost died as a result of her exposure to an aging compound that killed Eva Thorne’s colleagues. Dr. Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) also discovered that she was pregnant with her deceased husband Dr. Nathan Stark’s (Ed Quinn) child. All these developments, coupled with various behind-the-scenes goings-on, steered the show’s writers in a certain direction when it came to writing the rest of the season.

“There were some curve balls thrown at us midway through this season,” notes Paglia. “Some were production related, and others were just the types of things that happen with peoples’ personal lives that, in turn, can affect how you break stories. All those elements definitely had an impact on what we ended up doing with these back 10 episodes.

“We wanted to introduce a new love interest for Jack Carter and change the dynamic that we’ve traditionally had with him and Nathan Stark as these two Alpha males battling over the Alpha female. Also, with Stark’s passing, we wanted to bring in a new character, which we did in Dr. Tess Fontana, played by Jamie Ray Newman. Tess and Allison have a history. They’re old friends, but that also gets a little tense when Tess and Carter start to develop a romantic connection, which was, I think, really fun to play out.

“Something else we wanted to do was step up the relationship between Deputy Jo Lupo [Erica Cerra] and Zane Donovan [Niall Matter] and challenge it as far as if it’s a short-term thing or something more,” continues the executive producer. “Then there was Zoe and her boyfriend Lucas [Vanya Asher]. She’s coming to an age now where they’re talking about college and whether or not they’re planning to go to the same school and things of that nature. So I think it gave us a chance to really deepen the relationships and those connections and go to places that we haven’t before. That’s a challenge writing-wise and probably a lot more satisfying for our cast of actors to play as well.”

The second half of Eureka‘s third season opens with Welcome Back Carter. In it, Carter and Zoe contemplate leaving Eureka as the ex-sheriff looks for a new job. Meanwhile, everyone in town is surprised when Carter is replaced with Fargo’s (Neil Grayston) latest invention, a robotic sheriff named Andy (Ty Olsson). Unfortunately, the congenial and civic-minded robot is targeted by powerful gravity wells, which repeatedly crush him. Carter investigates and ultimately teams up with Andy to help save the day. Realizing that Jack is better suited to uphold law and order in Eureka. Andy helps Henry (Joe Morton) get him reinstated.

Sheriff Carter and Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston). Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Sheriff Carter and Douglas Fargo (Neil Grayston). Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“I’d like to have Sheriff Andy make a return to the show,” says Paglia. “He nearly did in this season’s finale, but I would say looking forward optimistically to season four, I think it would be great to have him back on some kind of recurring basis.

Welcome Back Carter is probably the most challenging episode we did in these back 10. There’s a sort of constant push and pull that goes on when you’re making a show like ours because you’re obviously tied to a certain budget. You do everything you can with that budget, and with that in mind, the [visual effects] guys who put the show together kill themselves to give us more than we’re even paying for. I mean, they really extend themselves and I think they’re more critical than any of us when it comes to saying, ‘You know what, if we did just one more thing it would be better.’

“One example of that is the final action sequence in this episode where Jack and Andy are in the barn. Probably two-thirds of those [VFX] shots were not originally budgeted, but creatively everyone agreed that they really needed to be there. So the networks and the studio came through with the extra money and the guys did everything in their power to get it done.”

Following Welcome Back Carter is the episode Your Face or Mine, in which Erica Cerra plays two very different versions of her Deputy Lupo character. Paglia is quite complimentary of her work as well as Colin Ferguson’s, who made his Eureka directorial debut with this episode.

“This was an opportunity where we really wanted to allow some of our other cast members to be the focus of the story, and Erica really stepped up to the task,” says the executive producer. “And Colin might be a little biased, but I think it’s probably one of our favorite episodes of these back 10.

“Colin did a terrific job of directing and he’ll be doing it again. This was actually the first episode that we shot of these back 10, and we specifically did that so that Colin would be able to prep his episode as a director without having to worry about acting in the previous one. This presented some interesting challenges for the writers, but we welcomed that as it gave us a chance to write a script that wasn’t Carter-driven in every scene. That said, he’s absolutely a presence through the episode. Colin got to be a fun comedic runner without having to be ferried from one set to another, which would have really impacted his work as a director.

Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) and Allison try to figure out who's who in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Deputy Jo Lupo (Erica Cerra) and Allison try to figure out who's who in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“So it all really worked, and I think it proves that we have an amazing supporting cast who we can put in the center of a story and still have it feel like our show.”

Paglia previously spoke of the introduction of  Tess Fontana as a new romantic interest for Carter in these upcoming Eureka episodes. How will this impact the sheriff’s and Allison’s relationship in the future? “We want them to truly ‘earn’ what they have relationship-wise,” he muses. “Most of us have had those unrequited relationships in our lives – those missed opportunities where the timing just wasn’t right or things went in a different direction. And you always wonder what if you had managed to work things out.

“As you know, we forced Carter and Allison apart in season two. She was taking over Global Dynamics and Stark was getting much closer to her and trying to help [her son] Kevin [Meshach Peters]. That was a very deliberate choice on our part to put Carter in a place of not trusting Allison for the first time because she was making some choices that were guided much more by her own personal interests and love for her child. And with the proposal from Stark at the end of the season, it really put a cap on the fact that she was going to go down that road.

“Of course, all that changed when Nathan died in what was a very noble way. Then there’s this pregnancy that’s left over and how is that going to affect Carter’s and Allison’s relationship. You’ll see as the rest of this season unfolds that their friendship has developed. It’s interesting when another woman comes into the mix and one who Allison had a previous relationship with. She sees that Tess could potentially make Carter happy and has to make the unselfish, or selfish, choice about whether or not to be supportive of that. Salli, Colin and Jamie Ray really play that dynamic nicely.

“There has been a recurring theme that we’ve tried to weave into the episodes over the past few seasons, which is do they [Carter and Allison] or don’t they have ‘a thing.’ You just have to have a little faith. It may take a long time to get there, and it’s not going to be the same road that was traveled down in the alternate time-line at the end of season one. We’ve seen different characters end up getting married and different characters being the parents of the kids. When Allison was pregnant at the end of year one it was with Carter, and last season it was actually with Stark. Those changes are part of the show. But as for Allison and Carter ending up together, well, there’s still the potential. After all, you never know what the future holds, but if you believe strongly enough and maintain those connections, anything is possible.

Dr. Allison Blake in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Dr. Allison Blake in "Your Face or Mine." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Sadly, Eureka fans hoping to see the return of Dr. Stark this year will be disappointed as that is not in the cards. However, there are some other familiar faces that will be making a comeback. “I don’t want to and can’t spoil it, but I can tell you that there are two characters that have been a major part of our series and will be making a reappearance,” teases Paglia. “Along with that, Lexi Carter, who is played by Ever Carradine, will be back for a few episodes and she’s great. We also have Billy Campbell [The 4400] coming in for an episode. But, yes, we do have two favorites who will be returning.”

And what about the show’s “big bad?” At the very end of Welcome Back Carter, an alien object is detected to be heading straight for Eureka. Can Paglia shed any light on how it may manifest itself? “We wanted to have another big bad,” says the executive producer, “but we wanted it to be something different as well as have it sort of tie into the historical aspect of our characters and the town on a personal level.

“So instead of it necessarily being a person, it’s a thing, and we don’t know what it is. The question is, is it from out there? Is it man-made? It’s coming towards Eureka and we have to deal with it, and that has, again, allowed us to introduce some new characters and bring back some old ones who we haven’t seen in a while.”

When it comes to a “wish list” Eureka episode, Paglia definitely as one. “There’s the concept that we’ve had for a really long time that focuses on Carter’s smart house, S.A.R.A.H. [Self-Actuated Residential Automated Habitat] and her desire to not just be literally a housewife to Carter, but to get out there, find a job and experience the world,” he says. “There was an episode in season two called Duck, Duck, Goose where S.A.R.A.H. was downloaded in a smart car for a while and was able to get out and feel the wind in her hair so to speak. However, she hasn’t managed to become personified yet, and I have an idea who I would like to play that character if we ever get a chance to do it. And I’ll just say that the actress happens to be on Battlestar Galactica.”

Having occupied a Tuesday night time-slot on the Syfy Channel since its premiere, Eureka has been moved to Friday nights for the remained of its third season. With the shift, the series has continued to go from strength to strength, much to Paglia’s delight.

Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jamie Ray Newman) try to save the day in the season three episode "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

Carter and Dr. Tess Fontana (Jamie Ray Newman) try to save the day in the season three episode "Insane in the P-Brane." Photo by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel

“I’m happy that Syfy has sort of staked out a hold on Syfy Friday’s for the channel,” says the executive producer. “Naturally, when you’ve got a time-slot that seems to be working for you, there’s always that little trepidation about throwing any curve balls into the mix. However, we premiered to record numbers and have managed to hold onto our number one status on the channel.

“We’ve actually built our audience even more and we want to see those numbers continue to grow. I’m hoping that we can maintain that on Friday nights. The network has always been very supportive of the series and I don’t think they would have moved us if they didn’t believe we could not hold our own. Hopefully, that will prove to be the case.”

Steve Eramo

As noted above, all photos by Marcel Williams and copyright of the Syfy Channel, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any form. Thanks!